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Torre Abbey Torquay
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It would be impossible to find a more appropriate showcase for Torbay's art collectio than historic Torre Abbey, the home of some of Torbay's leading citizens for over 800 years. The present art collection is largely the result of donations or bequests made by local people since 1930.
Ruth Burt-Smith the wife of E.H. Burt-Smith, the first honorary curator of Torre Abbey, had studied art at the Slade School in London. She painted throughout her life, but decided not to paint professionally. She painted two portraits of Thora Bird, later to become Thora Childs.
I spent an idyllic childhood in Torquay. Our family were friends of Aya from soon after she arrived from Japan just before the second world war . As a very young child I remember visiting her in the first house near the police station in Torre with my grandmother and my mother. I remember them saying as a Japanese she was treated badly during the war but perhaps not so badly as she was a very young woman and at least she was not interned. Our family gave her support.... My father was not keen on her paintings but mother bought us one each ....my father told tales of Bernard Broughton coming into his Mens Outfitters with egg on his suit front. At my mothers funeral we went to visit Aya and she showed us a photograph of herself as a beautiful young girl .I went to visit her again in the home after my father died...|I think she was still in her teens whan she left Japan.
When they moved to Greylands, 14, Cleveland Road I went there for tea with my grandmother and my mother, sometimes in the garden,, I have a painting of apres tea in the garden.....and sometimes in the house where there was little space between all her precious china and pottery. As a child .I was always worried about breaking something she was quite an expert on china, perhaps learned from Bernard. Bernard was just a silent figure around the house. She certainly knew us four children well as she summed up our characters as children well and our achievenments as adults well. She told us her paintings were her children she used to visit us for cups of tea. We saw her often when the men were away during the war.
When I was married we used to visit her, Her TV was covered in a gold fringed brocade hanging . It did look out of place in that Aladdins cave of art pottery etc
Thalia (Childs) Campbell
Aya Broughton (1912 - 1997) born in Kyoto Japan, moved to Torquay in 1936 following her marriage to Bernard Broughton, an Oxford professor some 30 years her senior. her colourful and lively canvases won her awards throughout Europe. Closely involved with many local charities, she would support their fundraising events by producing quick but lifelike sketches of visitors in return for a donation to the charity.
The Childs family took Aya under their wing during the war... she was not interned...but had a hard time....She exhibited at the Devon Art Society and Lilian bought a painting of Aya's for each of her children.Thalia's is a beautiful one of her garden where she sometimes had a cup of tea with her mother and her grandmother Gertrude Mary Bird.
Aya corresponded with the family B/W photos, Xmas and Birthday cards as well as post cards from various places and countries she visited and exhibited in.
Her painting 'Purple Sunshade. a self-portrait' hangs in the Gallery.
A black and white copy of a painting
A postcard from Japan
Christmas card by Aya
A personal letter
I don't know how my family met Aya but my grandmother went to meetings for example the Theosophical Society and the Cooperative Womens Guild.They could have met her there,Bernard Broughton wrote books.. his interest on religions could have been the contact at the Theosophical Society..Aya did become very devoted to Torquay and British culture and was involved in the National Trust and other UK organisations.She was very fond of gardens. We had a large victorian house with a large garden, well planned to be full of flowers throughout most of the year.. we had a walled orchard. I remember Aya complaining about my father putting in annual bedding plants and saying our garden was not a public park ....the newspaper cuttings give infornmation about her life and her exhibiting. I remember what I felt was her Japanese culture shining through in the later years of her life when she chided my mother for not being a respectful devoted wife to my father who was such a good provider as their marriage fell apart....When Breon O' Casey and I with other artists and staff from the local art schools organised The Torbay Art Group Exhibitions in The Abbey I suggested we included Aya but it was not accepted by the others, I was much younger than them so did not have much influence.. Thalia
An Aya Painting
Barn Built in 1196
In the 1950's Shakespeare plays were performed here
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